Ofelia Hunt is the author of My Eventual Bloodless Coup (Bear Parade). She lives in Portland, Oregon. This is her first novel.
"This book would like to give you an ice cream, but you will have to get in the van."
"The ironic is a mere ancient whisper in this torqued narrative: its odd violence feels true. Today & Tomorrow crashes through the windows of strip malls and paints the hypertrophic aisles with bristly-creepy hilarity."
"Ofelia Hunt is the balladeer of the doe-eyed detrivores of over-stimulation. Within Today & Tomorrow, readers find the fried and the frayed nerves in the youth of the Hyperworld. All will be well, America, as long as the rims keep spinning and Hunt keeps writing."
When we think of famous Ofelias, we first try to remember how Shakespeare spelled it, then we realize that isn’t going to help. As we start talking about Today & Tomorrow, there will be a lot to dive into: zambonis, grandfathers, violence, trauma.
But first: who is Ofelia Hunt?
True, she blogs and she seems to like the poet Kenneth Koch a lot, but is she even real? Several people who are familiar with her work have contacted me and asked me to spill the beans.
Here, in a Lit Pub exclusive, I’m prepared to tell you this: get a copy of Today & Tomorrow, look carefully at the copyright page, and then think about those times when you were a kid when you put on your favorite holster and smudged your voice. Or, if you played role playing games, how you made up the best names you could think of. Or how before high school tennis matches, the coaches had to formally introduce each player: “Blurgity will be playing #1 against Blurgity, Glurgity will be playing #2 against etc.” And sometimes I convinced my coach to introduce me as Xavier Damocles or Daradamand Fashuga, and I would pretend to be a foreign exchange student. All of which goes a little way toward the idea of how our imaginations construct their own ways of self-understanding, and the way writing a novel turns you into someone somewhat beside[s] yourself.
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In an interview with NOÖ Journal’s Alicia LaRosa, Ofelia Hunt playfully talked about how being Ofelia Hunt is a process:
AL: Do you take on a specific persona as Ofelia Hunt? Do you dig deep within yourself to find this person, detach yourself from reality this way by projecting this personality, or do you simply act au naturale?
OH: I’d like to say I put on a special bathrobe and eye makeup and kitten slippers. But I’m far more boring. I decided Ofelia liked a number of specific things and typed them out: 11 point Garamond, hyphens, repetition, trickery, ‘math rock’, parking lots… I made a list of writers Ofelia admires: Jean Rhys, Gertrude Stein, William Faulkner, Stacey Levine, Franz Kafka, Lydia Davis, Kenneth Koch, Kurt Vonnegut, Lisa Jarnot, Diane Williams, Joy Williams, etc… Ofelia Hunt does not like or understand plot. Her favorite move is Suicide Club (a Japanese movie sometimes called Suicide Circle). I woke every day for about two years at four a.m. to write and revise for sixty to ninety minutes before work. This may have detached me from reality. I remember feeling tired a lot, and listening to a lot of hiphop. Ofelia often writes about the kinds of things I muse about throughout a day, the things I find funny or strange. I think of Ofelia as both the “I” in the novel and the writer of the novel, so the novel may be a memoir.
AL: Are any of the characters in the novel based off of people you know personally? Related to?
OH: No, or not really. At most, certain moments, memories, instances, are based on reality. I grew up near Highland Ice Arena, and throughout middle school the Friday night skate was the place to be. I’d like to say that every character is a composite of every person I’ve ever met if that composite had been born me. The grandfather character is probably the parent I wish I had, and to some degree, has a sense of humor very much like my mother’s.
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As June continues, we’ll be having more interviews with Ofelia and more discussion about identity and more talking about how who we are copes with who we imagine we are.
Before you start the novel, I think it’s interesting to think about notions of authorship, and to try imagining Ofelia Hunt less as an “author” and more as an identity for testimony. After all, there is a long and rich literary history of pseudonyms, anonymity, authors putting themselves into their books, and other such identity shenanigans.
So what do you think of all this? What books have you read by pseudonymous authors? What do you believe to be the author’s role in claiming their voice? What exactly is a “voice” anyway?